From the June 2008 Idaho Observer:
Trust the people to self-govern and they will We have been conditioned by government, schools, "expert" psychologists, sociologists and the corporate media to have little faith in the capacity of our fellow men and women to self-govern in accordance with the rules of society. Entire industries depend upon common people acting on the belief that we are all just a bunch of hopeless sinners whose inate tendencies are to rape, pillage, plunder, lie, cheat and steal. If we can believe that man is the most ignoble, untrustworthy and incorrigibly corrupt creature in God’s Creation, then we can be lifelong customers of legislatures, courts, lawyers, police and prisons and be forever seeking the counsel of physicians and other "experts" to protect us from ourselves and keep our material possessions safe from others. The concept is flawed on its face. God would not create Man in his image to be the most contemptible creature in the universe. Rather than look to "experts" who tell us that we are hopelessly incapable of living peaceably amongst ourselves without government threats of violence hanging over our heads, we should look to statesmen and philosophers who view Man as the pinnacle of God’s Creation. Within this understanding people will grow and communities will strengthen. The marketplace niche for ever-expanding and deepeningly-intrusive government will wither and our people can get back to the business of raising families in the land of the free. Thomas Jefferson on "self-government"
Trust the people to self-govern and they will
We have been conditioned by government, schools, "expert" psychologists, sociologists and the corporate media to have little faith in the capacity of our fellow men and women to self-govern in accordance with the rules of society. Entire industries depend upon common people acting on the belief that we are all just a bunch of hopeless sinners whose inate tendencies are to rape, pillage, plunder, lie, cheat and steal. If we can believe that man is the most ignoble, untrustworthy and incorrigibly corrupt creature in God’s Creation, then we can be lifelong customers of legislatures, courts, lawyers, police and prisons and be forever seeking the counsel of physicians and other "experts" to protect us from ourselves and keep our material possessions safe from others.
The concept is flawed on its face. God would not create Man in his image to be the most contemptible creature in the universe.
Rather than look to "experts" who tell us that we are hopelessly incapable of living peaceably amongst ourselves without government threats of violence hanging over our heads, we should look to statesmen and philosophers who view Man as the pinnacle of God’s Creation. Within this understanding people will grow and communities will strengthen. The marketplace niche for ever-expanding and deepeningly-intrusive government will wither and our people can get back to the business of raising families in the land of the free.
Thomas Jefferson on "self-government"
"Every man, and every body of men on earth, possesses the right of self-government." ~Opinion on Residence Bill, 1790
"Every nation has a right to govern itself internally under what forms it pleases, and to change these forms at its own will."
~Letter to Thomas Pinckney, 1792
"Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question." ~1st Inaugural, 1801
"[Without becoming] familiarized with the habits and practice of self-government,...the political vessel is all sail and no ballast." ~Letter to Henry Dearborn, 1822
"[It is a] happy truth that man is capable of self-government, and only rendered otherwise by the moral degradation designedly superinduced on him by the wicked acts of his tyrant." ~Letter to M. de Marbois, 1817
"The qualifications for self-government in society are not innate. They are the result of habit and long training." ~Letter to Edward Everett, 1824
"[Americans’] habits of law and order, their ideas almost innate of the vital elements of free government, of trial by jury, habeas corpus, freedom of the press, freedom of opinion, and representative government, make [a people], I think, capable of bearing a considerable portion of liberty." ~Letter to John Adams, 1816
"Man [is] a rational animal, endowed by nature with rights, and with an innate sense of justice; and... he [can] be restrained from wrong and protected in right, by moderate powers, confided to persons of his own choice, and held to their duties by dependence on his own will." ~Letter to William Johnson, 1823
"Man is capable of living in society, governing itself by laws self-imposed, and securing to its members the enjoyment of life, liberty, property, and peace."
~ Declaration and Protest of Virginia, 1825
"At the formation of our government, many had formed their political opinions on European writings and practices, believing the experience of old countries, and especially of England, abusive as it was, to be a safer guide than mere theory. The doctrines of Europe were, that men in numerous associations cannot be restrained within the limits of order and justice, but by forces physical and moral, wielded over them by authorities independent of their will. Hence their organization of kings, hereditary nobles, and priests."
~Letter to William Johnson, 1823
"[If a] people [are] so demoralized and depraved as to be incapable of exercising a wholesome control, their reformation must be taken up ab incunabulis. Their minds [must] be informed by education what is right and what wrong, [must] be encouraged in habits of virtue and deterred from those of vice by the dread of punishments, proportioned indeed, but irremissible. In all cases, [they must] follow truth as the only safe guide and eschew error which bewilders us in one false consequence after another in endless succession. These are the inculcations necessary to render the people a sure basis for the structure of order and good government."
~Letter to John Adams, 1819
"[We] believe in the improvability of the condition of man, and [we] have acted on that behalf, in opposition to those who consider man as a beast of burden made to be rode by him who has genius enough to get a bridle into his mouth." ~Letter to Joel Barlow, 1810
"[Our] object is to secure self-government by the republicanism of our constitution, as well as by the spirit of the people; and to nourish and perpetuate that spirit. I am not among those who fear the people. They and not the rich are our dependence for continued freedom." ~Letter to Samuel Kercheval, 1816
"I am not discouraged by [a] little difficulty; nor have I any doubt that the result of our experiment will be, that men are capable of governing themselves without a master." ~Letter to T. B. Hollis, 1787
"It is a blessing... that our people are reasonable; that they are kept so well informed of the state of things as to judge for themselves, to see the true sources of their difficulties, and to maintain their confidence undiminished in the wisdom and integrity of their functionaries." ~Letter to Caesar A. Rodney, 1810
"But is the spirit of the people an infallible, a permanent reliance? Is it government? Is this the kind of protection we receive in return for the rights we give up? Besides, the spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united." ~Notes on Virginia, Q.XVII, 1782
"To secure [our inherent and inalienable] rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
~Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776
The Revolution (excerpted from The Revolution: A Manifesto)
I have heard it said that mankind does not want freedom, that people are happy to be slaves as long as they are entertained and well fed. I have likewise heard it said that most Americans have bought into the version of events they are given in the mainstream media and are perfectly content to be told what to think, what is good, what is bad, who is politically acceptable, who is politically unacceptable.
I don’t believe this for a second. For one thing, our own American Revolution would have been impossible if this mentality had prevailed. Contrary to what many Americans have been taught, a majority, not a minority, of the colonists supported the fight for liberty against Great Britain (John Adams is often misquoted as saying that one third of Americans supported the revolution, one third opposed it, and one third were indifferent. Historians have repeated this incorrect quotation time and again. Adams was in fact speaking of American support for the French Revolution. Historian William F. Marina has shown convincingly that a majority of Americans supported the American Revolution).
The fact is, liberty is not given a fair chance in our society, neither in the media, nor in politics, nor (especially) in education. I have spoken to many young people during my career, some of whom had never heard my ideas before. But as soon as I explained the philosophy of liberty and told them a little American history in light of that philosophy, their eyes lit up. Here was something they’d never heard before, but something that was compelling and moving, and which appealed to their sense of idealism. Liberty had simply never been presented to them as a choice.
We are engaged in a great battle of ideas, and the choices before us could not be dearer. I urge those who agree with this important message to educate themselves in the scholarship of liberty.
[W]e need to rethink what the role of government ought to be, and fast. If we continue to think of our government as the policeman of the world and as the Great Provider from cradle to grave, our problems will grow worse and worse and our downward economic spiral, the first signs of which we are now witnessing, will only accelerate. The role of world policeman has made our country poorer and less safe. The welfare state likewise threatens our financial solvency and has caused the once-robust institutions of civil society—which are no longer needed when government performs all functions—to atrophy.
Forget all the protests we’ll hear about how indispensable these departments [of government] are departments Americans got by very well without for more than 80 percent of our history…It is only our intellectual inertia and lack of imagination that make us think these departments necessary in the first place.
A federal Department of Education, for example, is an insult to the American people, who are more than capable of running their own schools without being looted to support a national education bureaucracy. We would get by just fine without it, as indeed Americans did for most of the twentieth century, a period when—by just a coincidence?—the population was far better educated than it is now.
We also need to begin to restore monetary freedom, which means that Americans should be free, if they wish, to engage in transactions and contracts denominated in gold and silver. It is essential that Americans be able to protect themselves in this way against any coming monetary disaster that would leave them holding valueless dollar bills. No one in politics or the media even talks about the issue, so you know it must be important.
The empire game our government has been playing is coming to an end one way or another. This is the fate of all empires: they overextend themselves and then suffer a financial catastrophe, typically involving the destruction of the currency. We are already seeing the pattern emerging in our own case. We can either withdraw gracefully, as I propose, or we can stay in our fantasy world and wait until bankruptcy forces us to scale back our foreign commitments. Again, I know which option I prefer.
Will it be difficult? Perhaps, though not nearly as much as some people think. We would finally begin to pull ourselves out from the crushing burden of debt and unfunded obligations that have hung over our economy for far too long. Our country would enjoy far more robust economic performance than we have seen in many decades. Rich and poor alike could once again look to the future with confidence, instead of a sense of foreboding.
Doing nothing would be far more difficult. In my travels around the country I have discovered that young people are waking up to reality faster than anyone else, since they realize that the cosmetic changes our political class is calling for will do nothing to prevent the financial catastrophe they now fear they will inherit. What decent parents would want to do such a thing to their children?
Ours is not a fated existence, for nowhere is our destiny etched in stone. In the final analysis, the last line of defense in support of freedom and the Constitution consists of the people themselves. If the people want to be free, if they want to lift themselves out from underneath a state apparatus that threatens their liberties, squanders their resources on needless wars, destroys the value of their dollar, and spews forth endless propaganda about how indispensable it is and how lost we would all be without it, there is no force that can stop them.
If freedom is what we want, it is ours for the taking. Let the revolution begin.
The comments above were excerpted from Chapter 7 of The Revolution: A Manifesto. Ron Paul has written the most concise analysis of our present circumstances with a bonus:The blueprint for how to restore the Republic—hardbound together in 173 beautifully-written pages.
The Revolution: A Manifesto is available from The IO for $21 (ppd.)